Jewish Oil Lamps
Jewish Pomegranate Oil Lamp

7th Century North African lamp from Egan Bronze classical oil lamps cast in bronze with patina, title

$1,200 (allow 6 to 8 weeks for delivery)
H. 3 " W. 4 5/8 " L. 7 1/4 "

RabbiThis bronze likeness of the original clay lamp was found in the area of Beth Guvrin in Southern Judea, central Israel. It is in the classification of lamps known as the Daroms (hebrew, "South"). The area was one of constant strife and the center of the Bar Kokhba Revolt 132-135 C.E. This lamp and numerous others were only produced during a 65 year period. They appear to be Herodian in style, but existed alongside the Roman styles. The significant differences are that they bear only non human/animal motifs (in keeping with the Torah) and they are "read" from the handle end rather than the nozzle end as in the case of the pagan Roman lamps. In nearly all cases the Darom lamps have motifs honoring the "Seven Species" as ascribed by the Torah. They are some of the best examples of uniconic art ever produced in Israel and form a bridge between the fall of the 2nd Temple and the Bar Kokhba Revolt.

The lamp designs of this period were of delicate relief and indicated an artistic shift from lamps pre 70 C.E. After the fall of the Temple in 70 C.E. many Jews were scattered to the Southern reaches of Judea just above the Negev desert. Among these Jews were the artists whose work before the Fall consisted of artistic work on ossuaries, architectural embellishments and coins. After the Fall, it appears that nearly all expressions of the love of Jewish life and religion were exhibited in the form of symbols on these Darom lamps. At the end of the Bar Kokhba revolt these lamps ceased being produced as the remaining Jews in Israel were driven out across northern Africa and into Europe.

The pomegranate has, throughout ancient history, been a fruit of many stories to many countries of the Middle East. For the Jews, this fruit is number six of the Seven Species and symbolizes the House of David. It further symbolizes the fertility of the land of Israel and the Midrash tells us that it has 613 seeds each representing the 613 commandments of the Torah. It shares a place among the other six species because of the difference these seven have with all the other plants in the land of Israel. These seven are all "born" during the 50 days between Passover and Shavuot (Pentecost) (mid April to mid June). It is during this time that weather conditions must be most favorable and the fate of the seven is determined. It is also the time of the most uncertain weather conditions. Scorching southern winds alternate with cold winds from the north and west. The former bring with them extreme dryness and heat, while the latter darken the skies, generating horrific storms, with thunder, lightning and rain. These alternating conditions benefit some of the seven, while providing destruction for the others. For the agrarian society of ancient Israel, there was always the plea to the one G_d that each wind come at the right time and that the weather held through the harvests. For it was only that the bikkurim (seven species) could be brought to the Temple.

Frank Egan 1999 - 2017